Sunday, July 19, 2020

Gotha

The name rings a bell. Wasn't there something called House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha? 

Coburg and Gotha are two cities in Germany. The first is located in Franconia, the second in Thuringia. Red Baron visited Gotha twice but only for a short time, so when I was in Erfurt, the city was just a 20 minutes train ride away. I decided to spend one day in Gotha while keeping my residence in Erfurt.

The Dukes of Saxe-Coburg are a branch line of the Wettiner, and their history is somewhat complicated. To make a long story short: The first duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was Ernest I, who reigned from 1826 to 1844.

In the meantime, the marriage policy of the House turned out to be as efficient as that of the Habsburgs. As Wikipedia knows: Ernest's younger brother Léopold became King of the Belgians in 1831, and his descendants continue to serve as Belgian monarchs. Léopold's only daughter, Princess Charlotte of Belgium, was the consort of Maximilian I of Mexico, and she was known as Empress Carlota of Mexico in the 1860s. Ernest I's second son, Prince Albert (1819–1861), married Queen Victoria in 1840 and is the progenitor of the United Kingdom's royal family.

The actual founder of the British line Saxe-Coburg and Gotha is King Edward VII (1901–1910) the eldest son of Albert and Victoria. In 1917 Edward's son George V (1910–1936), while Britain was fighting Germany in the First World War, renamed the royal line the House of Windsor.

The streetcar took me from the station (lower right)
to the Bertha-von-Suttner-Platz (upper right) from where
I walked along following the red line to the Hauptmarkt (main market). 
One arrives at Gotha by train at a station that is way out of the city center. While first railway stations were - and some are still - railhead termini fast train connection require through stations. The consequence is that these modern stations are mostly outside the city centers. Examples in Germany are Braunschweig, Heidelberg, Karlsruhe, and Gotha.

Gotha's Townhall
On foot, I arrived at the entrance to the old town. When facing the Rathaus (town hall), you look up to the Friedenstein castle. Sadly the whole area was a construction site.


On walking up to Gotha castle, I even saw two city archeologists at work.


Further uphill I passed the Gothaer Wasserkunst an artificial brooklet without water due to reparations


When I looked back at the Hauptmarkt. I noted the red tower of Gotha's town hall. The house in the sun on the right is the Lucas Cranach Haus, now a museum. Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1563) lived most of the time in Wittenberg, but he owned this house in Gotha.

Further up the hill, I approached the ducal castle from the left side following the red line on the city plan. Schloss Friedenstein was built in the years 1643 to 1554, the name was chosen allegorically honoring the end of the Thirty Years War and the Peace of Westphalia.


Above the main entrance the coat of arms of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha greets the visitor. Schloss Friedenstein and its exhibitions were still closed to the public, so I walked through the gate hall and entered the vast courtyard.


When looking back into the courtyard, I noticed how impressive the building is.


I followed the red line on the plan walked over the hill, and descended to the ducal museum that was built in the years 1864 to 1879.


The wearing of mouth-nose covers was obligatory in the museum. The statue of the founder in the entrance rotunda, Duke Ernest II, was decorated accordingly.

Ernst II was the only German prince who took the March Revolution of 1848 seriously. In 1849 he decreed for Saxe-Coburg and Gotha the most progressive constitution in the German territories.

The quality of the paintings exhibited was not up to the impressive building although some original works of Lucas Cranach the Elder should be mentioned.

Portrait of an Old Man attributed to the workshop of Rembrandt van Rijn or the master himself.
A comment reads: Future art-historical analysis may provide a conclusive attribution
  as well as the identification of the person portrayed.

Abraham van Dyck (1635-1672): Old Woman with Book.
Van Dyck was a Rembrandt pupil.

From the workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder:
Portraits of Martin Luther and his wife, Katharina von Bora

Damnation and Salvation by Lucas Cranach the Elder
The explanation reads as follows: The painting illustrates Luther's teaching on the justification of every person alone before God. The tree of life and death divides the image into two halves: on the left, the sinful person who has acted against the law is driven into hell by death in the devil. On the right, the guilt-laden person who is being accompanied by John the Baptist is discovering the grace of God through Christ's suffering and death.

I walked through the ducal park to the station and took a train back to Erfurt in the early afternoon.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Two in One

Already Frank Sinatra knew:
The tables of the Theater Café are empty. The terrace is deserted.
Last Thursday, Red Baron was at the theater. The Badische Zeitung (BZ) titled about the opening night: A great evening at the Theater Freiburg "The Seven Deadly Sins" and "Motherland".


Well, I wasn't so sure. Did they mean the Corona opening of the theater or the premiere of two pieces?

The new normal seating. Only couples sit together.
Note the banal stage set.
While in exile in Paris in 1933, Kurt Weill and Berthold Brecht teamed together to write "The Seven Deadly Sins", a "ballet with singing". It premiered in the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées on June 7, 1933.

Berthold Brecht and Kurt Weill
With the ballet not long enough to fill the evening, the Hungarian producer Kornél Mundruczó combined the premiere of "Motherland“ - a one-act play by Hungarian author Katá Weber - with "The Seven Deadly Sins."

The scene plays in a kind of doll's house. The BZ writes, "A bathroom with anthracite-colored tiles and a corner bath on the first floor, on the ground floor to the left a sizeable average kitchen, the living room a mixture of Swedish furniture store interior and inheritance: painstakingly acquired, modest wealth is reflected in it - and poverty lurks in every corner. So does sin."

Anna I is singing in the bathroom
while Anna II is performing the act ... with a plant.
It is also the desideratum of a "little house in Louisiana" that Brecht and Weill based their ballet on. During seven years, two sisters, Anna I and Anna II, travel in the US to earn money for their house, for themselves, and their family. On their joint tour, they are confronted with the seven evils: Sloth, pride, anger, gluttony, fornication, greed, envy. Finally, Anna I sings, "To try our luck - now we have made it.“

Interwoven is the story of "Motherland." A mother (it is Anna II) does everything so that her little daughter should win a beauty contest. The relationship between mother and daughter is slowly escalating in desolation: Mom wants to drag the little girl from beauty contest to top model contest, partly subliminal, partly with brutal pressure. The peak of this martyrdom is the scene where Anna II injects her daughter Botox.

The showdown comes in the one, but the final scene where the girl refuses to collaborate and mother Anna II enumerates all the expenses she has already invested in the project. She goes to the upper floor, sits down in the bathtub ... I was expecting the worse.

But then the closing words of the little girl came out clear and loud, addressing her mummy, "We will win, I promise.”

"Motherland" is stereotypical and banal, "The Seven Deadly Sins" are a short imitation of "Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny." Except for the excellent actors, it wasn't a great theatrical evening sitting together (?) with fellow spectators in a new normal configuration.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Aerosols

Presently a paper stirs up the minds. Its title: "It is Time to Address Airborne Transmission of COVID-19" by Lidia Morawska and Donald K. Milton of the Queensland University of Technology.

Red Baron thought everything had already been said or written about the subject. In Germany, the Robert-Koch-Institute (RKI) in the current version of its coronavirus profile, refers clearly to infection through aerosols, "The main transmission pathway for SARS-CoV-2 is the respiratory uptake of virus-containing fluid particles that are produced when breathing, coughing, speaking and sneezing."

"Longer stays in 'small, poorly or unventilated rooms' may increase the risk of infection, even if the minimum distance of two meters is observed. Transmission in the fresh air, on the other hand, is 'rare.' The concentration of virus-laden particles in the air is quickly reduced by the wind."

Aerosols seem to transmit corona much more lustfully than we droplets (©SVLW)
As early as April 29, the Schweizerischer Verein für- Luft und Wasserhygiene (Swiss Association for Air and Water Hygiene) published an article: "Büroluft gibt Coronaviren Aufwind (Office air gives Coronaviruses upwinds)."

According to Lidia Morawska, the World Health Organization (WHO) is reluctant to update its advice. The paper published in the Oxford Academic Journal of Clinical Infectious Diseases recommends new safety measures, including increased indoor ventilation and the installation of high-grade air filters and UV lamps. At the same time, overcrowding in buildings and transport should be prevented.

"There is significant potential for inhalation exposure to viruses in microscopic respiratory droplets (microdroplets) at short to medium distances (up to several meters, or room-scale)," the authors continue.

"Handwashing and social distancing are appropriate, but in our view, insufficient to provide protection from virus-carrying respiratory microdroplets released into the air by infected people while breathing, speaking, coughing, or sneezing."

"Those droplets above five to ten micrometers - which is less than the width of a typical human hair - fall to the ground in seconds and within a meter or two."

"On the other hand, droplets under this size can become suspended in the air in what is called an 'aerosol,' remaining aloft for several hours and traveling up to tens of meters."

Cath Noakes, a professor of environmental engineering for buildings at the University of Leeds, who contributed to the paper, said, "COVID-19 doesn't spread in the air as easily as measles or tuberculosis, but is a threat nonetheless."

"COVID-19 is more likely to be 'opportunistically' airborne and therefore poses a risk to people who are in the same room for long periods," she added.

"The WHO says that there is insufficient evidence to prove that the aerosol/airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is happening. We are arguing that there is insufficient proof that aerosol/airborne transmission does not occur," Professor Milton insisted.

In the meantime, the WHO has somehow reacted in a new report about Coronavirus, named SARS-CoV-2, "Airborne transmission of the virus can occur in health care settings where specific medical procedures, called aerosol-generating procedures, generate tiny droplets called aerosols. Some outbreak reports related to crowded indoor spaces have suggested the possibility of aerosol transmission, combined with droplet transmission, for example, during choir practice, in restaurants, or in fitness classes."

Why is the WHO so reluctant? According to conspiracists, this is Chinese influence. 

Due to the information spread by the RKI in Germany, Red Baron observes that people are well aware of aerosols and sit outdoors when taking their meals in a restaurant. I already mentioned that in Freiburg there is too little rain. Subsequently, the now extended surfaces for outside food service are well occupied in the evening. Still, restaurant owners moan that when keeping distances with the present disposition of tables even when filled to full capacity, they do not cover their costs of operation.

Will people go to indoor restaurants coming fall and winter? Will we see a second Corona wave, massive deaths of restaurants, or both?

What we know for sure. The virus is insidious.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Freiburg's Corona History

Red Baron's passage of time has changed in times of Corona. Many atavistic markers suddenly became lost. What day is it today? This was a continued question. Now we are living a new normal in Germany. It is time to review the past months.

How and when did the Sars-CoV-2 virus arrive at Freiburg? In trying to get a clear picture for myself, I suddenly had all the material for a relevant blog.


February 27 The Coronavirus reaches southern Baden. Three people are infected, two women from the Breisgau Hochschwarzwald district and one man from the city of Freiburg.

They belonged to a group of business travelers who attended a meeting of the US American biotech company Thermo Fischer Scientific in Munich.

The company closes its Freiburg branch on this very day.

Initial Corona instructions (©BZ)

In the meantime, the authorities are asking people to refrain from visiting patients due to the increase in hospital infections.

March 6 More and more trips to Freiburg are canceled. Shop owners become worried.

One lonely bus on Freiburg's coach parking (©BZ)
March 7 SC Freiburg plays its soccer match against Union Berlin at the Dreisam stadium. One week later, the Bundesliga season is suspended.

There is a growing number of Covid-19 cases in southern Alsace. People became infected during a week of fasting at the Protestant free church "Porte ouverte chrétienne" in Mulhouse-Bourtzwiller in mid-February.

Several hundred to more than 2000 people from all over France, from French overseas territories and, according to information from the community, also from Switzerland and Germany, took part in the meeting of the Free Church "Open Christian Doors," which lasted several days.

In Switzerland, the meeting is regarded as the starting point for many Corona infections.

March 9 The University Hospital of Freiburg reports that a patient has probably been infected with the Coronavirus by a visitor. As a consequence, 30 employees of the university hospital are quarantined at home.

March 10 The city of Freiburg banns mass events and hence also the concert by the German rock group Annen May Kantereit in the Sick-Arena.

March 11 The Robert-Koch-Institute declares the French region of Grand Est (Alsace, Lorraine, and Champagne-Ardenne), a Corona risk area.

©BZ
March 13 Baden-Württemberg issues a ban on visiting hospitals and nursing homes. On the same date, the state decides to close kindergartens and schools from March 17.
Freiburg's Albert-Ludwigs University suspends teaching until April 19.
The UB (university library) is closed.

March 14 In Freiburg, all events and meetings with more than 50 people are prohibited.

March 15 On this date 99 persons are infected in Freiburg and the surounding district of Breisgau-Hochschwarzwald.

March 16 The borders with France and Switzerland are partially closed. Travelers without a valid reason (no shopping) are no longer allowed to enter and leave the country.

Europe's new common motto (©Stuttmann/BZ)
Footpath between Germany and Switzerland
crossing the Rhine River at Rheinfelden (©BZ)
March 17 The Auswärtige Amt (Foreign Office) issues a global travel warning. Planes are grounded.

In France, the situation becomes worse. President Macron imposes a 14-day curfew throughout France.

Deserted Minster square in Strasbourg (©afp)
March 18 Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks to the Nation on television, asking people to observe the distance and hygienic rules in times of Corona.

Panic buying: It's empty!!! -- Above all, no panic!! (©Stuttmann/BZ)
March 19 Given the dramatic situation in the Grand Est region with 61 deaths due to Covid-19 Mayor Martin Horn decreed for FreiburgFrom March 21 to April 3, residents are allowed to leave their houses or apartments only for urgent matters. Those who wish to stay outside may do so only alone, in pairs, or with persons who live in their own household. This is mandatory for all public places, i.e., parks, squares, and ... streets. A minimum distance of 1.50 meters must be kept from all other persons. One may, however, continue to go to work or to the doctor as well as shopping for food.

Mayor Martin Horn in the evening news on German television
Freiburg's Rathausplatz in the morning of March 19
March 20 Baden-Wuerttemberg follows Martin Horn's direction. Minister-President Kretschmann (Greens) issues a regulation: The formation of groups of more than three people is no longer allowed in public. There are exceptions for families and persons living together. Individuals and small groups can continue to move without restriction. Besides, all shops that do not serve the urgent needs of the citizens must close. Museums, theatres, cinemas, later fitness studios, libraries, and elementary schools are closed. Church services, as well as club meetings, are forbidden: Sports fields are closed, games and matches are forbidden in Baden-Württemberg.

Square of the Old Synagogue in Freiburg (©BZ)
The corona crisis in Alsace is dramatic. The hospitals can no longer ventilate all patients. Seven patients severely ill with COVID-19 are brought to Baden-Wuerttemberg, where there are still enough respirators.

March 21 The exit restrictions are in force in Freiburg: For two weeks, citizens are to leave the house only for urgent matters. Public places may not be entered. Stays outside are only possible alone, in pairs, or for people from the same household.

Freiburg's deserted food market (©BZ)
March 22 Chancellor Angela Merkel makes the following statement valid for Germany on national television:

1: Citizens are urged to reduce contact with other people outside the members of their own household to an absolutely necessary minimum.

2: In public, wherever possible, a minimum distance of at least 1.5 meters, or better still 2 meters, must be kept from people other than those mentioned in the first paragraph. This distance rule must be observed. At a certain distance, the risk of infection is reduced to almost zero. Whether you stand half a meter apart or 1.5 meters makes a huge difference (Being a physicist, she knows the inverse square root law well).

3: It is only allowed to stay in public spaces alone or with one other person not living in the household or in the circle of members of one's own family.

4: The way to work, emergency care, shopping, visits to the doctor, participation in essential meetings, necessary appointments and examinations, help for others, individual sports, and exercise in the fresh air as well as other essential activities remain, of course possible.

5: Given the seriousness of the situation in our country, groups of people celebrating in public places, in homes and private institutions, are unacceptable. Violations of the contact restrictions should be monitored by the regulatory authorities, and the police and sanctions should be imposed in the event of infringements (Angela is careful using "should" for the police authority is with the German Länder).

6: In Addition to pubs and restaurants, catering establishments will be closed. This does not include the delivery and collection of takeaway food for consumption at home.

7: Personal hygiene service providers such as hairdressers, beauty salons, massage parlors, tattoo studios, and similar establishments will be closed because physical proximity is essential in these cases. Medically necessary treatments remain possible.

8: It is essential to comply with hygiene regulations and implement effective protective measures for employees and visitors.

9: These measures should be valid for at least two weeks.

Mother of the Nation (©ARD)
March 23 After six years without new debts, the black zero in the federal budget is falling. The cabinet approves a supplementary budget with a new deficit of 156 billion euros, With this unprecedented aid package, the federal government is supporting families, tenants, employees, the self-employed and businesses in the Corona crisis.

The cabinet decides on several large protective financial umbrellas and necessary extensive legal changes too.

To ensure that the aid arrives quickly, the Bundestag (parliament) is to approve the package in a fast-track procedure on March 25 and the Bundesrat (senate) on March 27.

Drown them ruthlessly in money (©Stuttmann/BZ)
March 25
Deserted Talstraße 
Through-out April Because for some people the Corona restrictions go too far, there are demonstrations in South Baden and all over Germany where conspiracy theories are being spread. Radicals use the "demos" to raise the spirits for their political ideas.

Demonstrators at Freiburg's Rathausplatz (©BZ)
April 2 Freiburg being a hotspot?

No April fool; Corona cases per 100,000 inhabitants (©BZ)
April 16 All events of Freiburg's Stadtjubiläum (900 years Freiburg) are suspended until September 17.

Freiburg sticks togethet
April 20 After a month of standstill, many shops reopen. Small and medium-sized businesses are allowed to receive customers again. Distances shall be observed; mouth-nose-covers should be used.

April 24 Baden-Württemberg's Minister for the Interior Thomas Strobl and the president of the French regional government Jean Rottner agree that families may see each other again across the border.

April 27 The compulsory wearing of masks begins in Baden-Württemberg. People must cover their mouths and noses in public transport, and when shopping.

May 4 Hairdressers are allowed to open again under special hygienic conditions.

May 6Playgrounds in Freiburg open as well as zoos and museums.

May 16 The Bundesliga season continues with ghost games, i.e., the clubs are allowed to play soccer in front of empty stands.

May 18 Restaurants and bars are allowed to reopen under certain conditions. Waiters must wear mouth-nose-covers, and guests must leave their contact details.

June 15 After weeks of closure, borders open again for Germans, French and Swiss even without any particular reason for traveling.

June 16 The official German Corona App of the Robert-Koch-Institute to warn of a possible infection becomes available.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Freiburg Splinters 2

Here is some news from Freiburg in the form of splinters.

Dreisam River



A recent photo of the newly built fish ladder. We had a warm winter, a summerly spring, and only a little rain. It's no wonder that the Dreisam River is practically dry. The months of July and August are announced to be hot, with temperatures well above 30°C. We do not expect much water coming from the skies. Will there be any water in the Dreisam at the end of summer?


Night of Light


Municipal Theater Freiburg (©BZ).
On Monday 22, many buildings in Germany were glowing red. 

A call for help: We need culture, and culture needs us.
While in some sectors the economy it's taking up the pace, all those who earn their money depending on mass events (theaters, concerts in particular) are still out of work. The Freiburg theater will open on July 18, with a ballet Die sieben Todsünden (The Seven Deadly Sins) by Berthold Brecht and Kurt Weill. Red Baron will attend and report.

Old Merchant House on Minster Square (©BZ).
The red illumination is meant to be a reminder and a protest at the same time. The future is dim for mass events as long as we do not have a vaccination.


Wikipedia


Last week the Freiburg Wikipedia Stammtisch met for the first time since March. The new normal consisted of only four people sitting in the vast garden of a Greek restaurant enjoying Gyros. 


On my way home, it was already late, but in waiting for my streetcar, I noted this eerie sunset. While tram 4 had just left ...


... number 2 is arriving one minute later to take me home


Alban Stolz


The reported statue destructions in the course of the BLM demonstrations in our sister city Madison make no sense. Colonel Hans Christian Heg fought in the Union Army against the Confederates and fell in the Civil War.

The Konviktkirche is seen in the background (©BZ)
On the other hand, discussions about the fate of Alban Stolz's monument - certainly triggered by the iconoclasm in the States - suddenly entered into a new phase. While the Catholic Church would like to have the "anti-Semite" bust removed ASAP, the Monument Regulatory Authority has cast its veto: The removal of the statue would destroy the global view of the square in front of Konviktkirche.

Now the city intervened, and Mayor Ulrich von Kirchbach, responsible for Freiburg's social and cultural affairs, demanded the removal of the bust. It is now very likely that the final decision on Stolz's fate will be taken at the level of Baden-Württemberg's state government.


Dietenbach


Red Baron reported about the success of the popular vote to create a new suburb called Dietenbach in February 2019.

An aerial view of the agricultural land for the future suburb Dietenbach.
To the right, the existing suburb Rieselfeld.
The blue spot in the background is Dietenbach Lake.
Despite the Corona crisis, the planning of Freiburg's new quarter Dietenbach goes ahead, although not all plots of land still used for agriculture have been acquired. The administration has informed the municipal council about the preparation for the development of Dietenbach. The aim of the framework plan presented is to create a suburb with a climate-neutral energy supply, an environmentally-friendly mobility concept, and a barrier-free living space. There will be a total of four quarters with their own neighborhood squares and municipal childcare facilities. The city council will vote on the framework plan on December 8.


Fessenheim, the Atom Dino


Beautiful nuclear plant Fessenheim
on the Rhine channel in neighboring France.
This is not a Freiburg splinter but rather a thorn in the flesh of most citizens (Red Baron reported).

The Fessenheim nuclear plant opened in 1977 and in 2020 was already three years over its projected 40-year life span. Since its construction, it had always been a target for anti-nuclear campaigners in Freiburg, in particular after the catastrophic meltdown at Fukushima in Japan in 2011.

In the difficult times of Corona, there is not much joy, except one.
Finally, France's oldest nuclear power plant shut down on Tuesday, June 30, to the delight of environmental activists but stoking worry for the local economy.

South Baden's District President Bärbel Schäfer expressed her satisfaction too,
"A new chapter of French-German cooperation has opened."

Wat dem einen sin Uhl, ist dem andern sin Nachtigall (One man's meat is another man's poison). "We hope, above all, to be the last victims of this witch hunt against nuclear energy," Fessenheim union representative Anne Laszlo said ahead of the closure, which will see about 150 families depart the tiny Alsatian community of 2,500 inhabitants this summer.


FMG Stammtisch


The Greiffenegg-Schlössle (Toni's place) during the Night of Light (©BZ).
Yesterday evening we had our first Stammtisch following the Corona-Beschränkungen (restrictions) of public life in the middle of March.

Beer under chestnut trees
The Freiburg-Madison Gesellschaft had invited its members to the Greiffenegg-Schlössle or rather to the Biergarten. Recently this so-called Kastaniengarten had been counted among the ten most beautiful beer gardens in Germany.

Looking at the Black Forest in the background in a thunderstormy atmosphere

Auswandererlieder or the Sound of Freedom


The FMG should be prominently mentioned in the final text.
Here is the draft poster of an event our Committee member Herbert Schiffels has organized within the program of Freiburg's 900th anniversary. In the 19th century, many Germans left their country due to political or social-economic reasons. They sang songs of wanderlust, homesickness, and social criticism. These old texts are highly topical during the present refugee crises.

With many events of Freiburg's 900th anniversary canceled or postponed the Sound of Freedom would be one highlight at the end of October.


Beautiful Freiburg


Around 10 p.m., the party rose from the table.  On my way home I took some photos:

The Minster steeple in the clouds of the recent thunderstorm and ...

... already blue skies in the direction of the Schwabentor (Swabian Gate)